Falana to FG: Obey Nigeria’s court orders as you did London court’s
HUMAN rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, on Sunday, wrote the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, asking the Federal Government to obey Nigeria’s court order, the same way it treated orders from British courts.
Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and counsel for the detained activists, Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare, lamented the continued detention of both at the custody of Department of State Service (DSS), while alleging that there was a plan to move them to a correctional centre.
In his letter, entitled: “Request for equal compliance with orders of British courts and Nigerian courts by the Federal Government of Nigeria,” Falana threatened to seek professional disciplinary actions against Malami, also a SAN, which could culminate in the withdrawal of his silk as a member of the inner Bar.
He alleged that the application from the prosecution to move his clients out of the DSS custody to a correctional centre was a ploy to detain them infinitely.
Despite being admitted to bail by the trial Federal High Court for spearheading the “RevolutionNow” campaign months back, the Federal Government had refused to obey the court order, sustaining a pattern that has seen close to 40 court orders not obeyed by the current administration.
“It was well reported in the print and electronic media last week that upon the posting a bank guarantee of $200 million, the Federal Government has been granted leave to appeal against the judgment of the British Commercial Court in London wherein the sum of $9.6 billion was awarded in favour of P&ID.
“In celebrating the variation of the court order to deposit the fund, your office stated that ‘our application for variation of the order was allowed and we are, as a result, not making cash deposit but posting a bank guarantee. We remain in control of our funds by the act of acceptance of the guarantee. The advantage of the variation in the judgment from direct deposit of cash to posting of bank guarantee is that the money and its control resides in the Federal Government as against if it were otherwise.’
“Before then, the Federal Government had paid the costs of £250,000 awarded in favour of P&ID by the same court. You will agree with us that the posting of the said guarantee, as well as the payment of costs in favour of P&ID, were carried out by your office, notwithstanding that the Federal Government is completely dissatisfied with the controversial judgment of the British Commercial Court.
“But in complying with the orders of the British Court, your office has demonstrated to the international community that the Federal Republic of Nigeria operates under the Rule of Law.
“It is, however, disturbing to note, notwithstanding such deference to the courts of its former colonial master, the Federal Government has continued to disobey the valid and subsisting orders of Nigerian courts and the Court of Justice of the Economic Court of West African States, including orders for the release of political detainees and criminal suspects from unlawful custody.
“For instance, the State Security Service has continued to detain our clients, Messrs Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare, in defiance of the order of the Federal High Court which has admitted them to bail pending trial.
“In treating the court order with provocative contempt the State Security Service has insisted on approving the sureries of our clients after they have been verified by the Federal High Court. From the information at our disposal, there is no precedent whatsoever for the illegal demand.
“Instead of purging the security agency of such contempt of the Federal High Court the Prosecutor, Dr Hassan Liman, engaged by your good self to prosecute our clients, has curiously applied to the trial court to have them transferred to a correctional centre and detained indefinitely for having the temerity to question the illegal directive to produce their sureties.
“In view of the fact that the Federal Government has never given any precondition before complying with the orders of the British Court in the case of P&ID and other matters, we are compelled to request you to direct the State Security Service to comply with the orders of the Federal High Court for the unconditional release of our clients,” the letter read.